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Mom's passion for giving forward inspired by son's sudden cancer death

Denver7 Everyday Hero Sheila Ervin.png
Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 19, 2023

GREELEY, Colo.— Officially the office manager at Bella Romero Academy in Greeley, Sheila Ervin is so much more. For years, she’s been a role model for the kids in how to take what could be a bad situation and turn it around for the good.

Sheila’s son Spencer was just 11-years old when a rare and aggressive form leukemia claimed his life in 2007.

“She's had kind of a tough road, as we all have,” explains her husband, Gary Ervin. “She's really just kind of taken an attitude of wanting to give back and wanting to help others.”

Paying it forward was important to Sheila before Spencer passed way, it’s become an even bigger passion.

On Spencer’s 11th birthday, just a few months before her son would be diagnosed with cancer, Sheila was in the hospital donating a kidney to her brother, Eric Helus.

”There's not much more to say than other than I owe her my life,” Eric says. “There was a birthday party and stuff being planned, but she talked to her to her son, my nephew and he decided to forego his birthday party so that she could save my life.”

Sheila says organ donation was not on her mind until her brother became sick, but it’s something that seems like an even bigger deal now than it did back then.

“Knowing now what it’s like to lose a child -- thankfully my parents didn’t have to do that,” Sheila says.

But that wasn’t the only time she was an organ donor. 12 years later, she found out she was a match for a young boy who needed a liver. She donated part of her liver to him. That surgery was also on Spencer’s birthday.

“I know between everything personally, her son and what she does for her husband and family, she just goes above and beyond in every way and she's very committed to everybody,” adds Bella Romero Academy principal Ashley Aragon.

Also singing Sheila’s praises is Lt. Col. Stephanie Figueroa, part of the Colorado Air National Guard’s 233d Space Group based out of Greeley. Lt. Col. Figueroa works with Sheila’s husband Gary, and Sheila is the head of the Family Readiness Group which encompasses the care of 400 people.

“She takes care of our families when we're out in the field makes sure that we have our education benefits, make sure that the furnace is repaired when the loved ones in the field,” the Lt. Col says. “Everything you could think of she's the care and feeding. She’s the heartbeat of the organization.”

And the heartbeat of her own family.

“She just really believes that doing the right thing is the right thing,” says Gary. “And I just think it's important to say, to say thank you.”

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